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Important Notes For Zoom F4 vs Sound Devices MixPre 3

This spec sheet will never answer your questions like “Which sounds better?” but will give you better insights if you are comparing these 2 units for certain criteria that is important or essential to your workflow. my last comparison was a bit more general on the Zoom F4 vs MixPre-6 so im now going to take a more data driven look into each.

Price

This is a major factor for a lot of people starting out or even looking for a backup recorder of some kind. Prices change per market so chose a random distributor for both prices.

Zoom F4: ~£589
Sound Devices MixPre-3: ~£675

Inputs + Tracks

Inputs are the physical inputs you can plug microphones into and then tracks also includes any mix tracks or other recordable sources.

Zoom F4: 4x XLR Inputs / Input 5-6 Via Zoom Adapter / 8 Tracks Total with inputs 1-6 as ISO + 1 Stereo Mix
Sound Devices MixPre-3: 3x XLR inputs / 5 Tracks total with stereo mix track + 3 ISO tracks.

Zoom F4 vs Sound Devices MixPre 3 Limiters

Zoom F4: Digital Limiter with little information
Sound Devices MixPre-3: 
Limiter at all gain stages, range > 40dB. First stage analog, subsequent stages digital.

Outputs

Zoom F4: 2x XLR Out + Stereo Aux via 3.5mm
Sound Devices MixPre-3: 
3.5mm TRS stereo unbalanced, 500 ohm output Z, +7.8dBu max output level

Sample Rates

Zoom F4:

  • 44.1 kHz
  • 47.952 kHz
  • 48 kHz
  • 48.048 kHz
  • 88.2 kHz
  • 96 kHz
  • 192 kHz

Sound Devices MixPre-3:

  • 44.1 kHz
  • 48 kHz
  • 96 kHz

Equivalent Input Noise

Zoom F4: −127 dBu or less (A-weighted, +75 dB input gain, 150Ω input)
Sound Devices MixPre-3:
-130dBV (-128dBu) max (A-weighting, gain = 76dB, 150 ohm source impedance)

Frequency Response

Zoom F4: 10 Hz – 80 kHz +0.5 dB/−1.5 dB (192 kHz sampling rate)
Sound Devices MixPre-3: 
 10Hz to 40kHz +/- 0.5dB re 1kHz @ 96kHz sample rate

Zoom F4 vs Sound Devices MixPre 3 THD + Noise

Zoom F4: There is no reference for this so must assume it slightly higher like the F8 specs @ 0.009% max (1kHz, 22Hz-22kHz BW, Input Gain min, -10dBu input)
Sound Devices MixPre-3: 
0.005% max (@1kHz, 22-22kHz BW, gain=20dB, -10dBu in)

Timecode

Zoom F4: BNC – LTC or Normal Timecode
Sound Devices MixPre-3: Aux 3.5mm or HDMI – LTC or HDMI Feeding

Summation: Zoom F4 vs Sound Devices MixPre 3

Depending on your need I think the main thing that will swing it is if you need normal timecode and not LTC and more outputs along with being on a budget I would lean to Zoom F4.

That being said for beautiful preamps, arguably better limiters and better noise ratio then the Sound Devices MixPre-3 would be the one I would lean towards.

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Matt Price

Matt Price

London Sound Recordist

I am a London Sound Recordist and Sound Editor for many types of projects around the film genres. This covers creative content right through to feature films. I am passionate about sharing my journey and knowledge to help the rest of the community. If you need anything from me, feel free to get in touch with me at London Sound Recordist.